How to Get Apologetics in Your Church 2: Kicking Off The Truth Project
Kicking Off The Truth Project by Patrick Collins
I approached my pastor in the fall of 2010 about offering “The Truth Project” to small groups at the church. The Truth Project (TTP) is a systematic study of the Christian Worldview that shows the Bible applies to all areas of life. It helps Christians know why they believe what they believe, both for basic doctrine (who is God, inerrancy of Scripture, sin, the trinity, etc) and practical worldview (role of government, family structure, ethics, employer-employee relations, etc). It was developed by Focus on the Family and is a 13-week, DVD-based, small group curriculum.
We started by putting inserts in the church bulletin on a Sunday morning in late October. At the end of the morning service, a short 3-minute promo video was shown. An announcement was made that we would have an interest meeting the next Sunday immediately after the morning service.
The next Sunday, I held the interest meeting to explain briefly what the Truth Project is. I also explained that we were looking for individuals who may be interested in going through the small group first in order to be trained to be small group leaders. My hope was that if our first group went through it in the spring, then we could have multiple groups go through it later in the summer or fall.
Out of a church of about 180 adults, about 30 attended the interest meeting. Of them about half said they’d be interested in only taking the class, and a handful said they would consider being trained to be leaders. I coordinated with the potential leaders what nights would be best for them and decided to have two classes. One would meet on Monday nights and the other on Wednesday nights. Because of this, two couples who really wanted to come couldn’t. I wanted to be inclusive, but asking them to wait was one of the hard decisions I had to make. Thankfully, there would be other opportunities for them. I then opened up the two classes for anyone else interested in going through it in the spring. I capped each class at dozen people (TTP isn’t as effective for larger groups – it is a small group curriculum after all).
Once January came and the classes started to meet, our numbers ended up being 11 and 9. We had a few drop out due to schedule conflicts. The Monday night group met at my home (home meetings are recommended by TTP) and the Wednesday night group met at the church (not as preferred by TTP; to do The Truth Project, you have to be trained by Focus on the Family either by going through a small group and then watching a leader-training DVD or attending one of their training events. During the training, you are encouraged to hold TTP in your home because it’s a more natural atmosphere and you can more easily bond with people). We agreed to meet from 6 to 7:30pm each week.
Both groups enjoyed the The Truth Project. I was able to bring up apologetics several times during the discussions. TTP contains some apologetics, so I intentionally developed those ideas further. My experience working with Ratio Christi (a student apologetics club) also gave me many examples to pull from to show why certain topics were so important and how they are often misunderstood. Also, being able to cite current events and how they related to defending the faith was especially useful.
By the end of the 13 weeks, I had about four people commit to leading a future TTP group. I had two or three who had originally said they wanted to become leaders, but had backed out.
During the summer of 2011 we had three Truth Project Groups. The church’s summer schedule only allows for 10 weeks, so they started a week early and ended a week late. They had to skip the lesson on Biblical principals used in founding America. Those who were interested were allowed to borrow the disc to watch on their own after the small group ended.
In the fall of that year, one of the church’s small groups that meets in a home went through it. That small group decided to meet from 6:15 to 8:30 so they could have dinner at the home they were meeting at. They had 15 regular attendees each week, which was almost too big, but it worked out very well. They also had a problem with the holidays cutting their meeting to twelve instead of thirteen. Instead of skipping a lesson, they decided to watch one and a half lessons for the last two meetings.
Then, in January of 2012 we held an all day seminar at the church. We met from 9am to 5pm on a Saturday. While we were only able to show half of the videos, I was able to bridge the gaps between the lessons. There was no discussion, but I emphasized the need for people to come back this summer and go through the course the way it’s meant to be done – with discussion.
We wanted to do the “seminar” because the Truth Project is thirteen weeks and some have been hesitant to commit to it. We thought this would be a great way to introduce people to the big picture of what the Truth Project teaches. It also worked as a great reinforcement for a few that wanted to go through it again. We even had several people from other churches attend. The seminar paid off, and many have signed up to go through the course this summer.
Now that it’s been a year since the first Truth Project meeting at West Huntsville Baptist Church, we’ve had at least 70 church members be a part of a Truth Project small group, and we have plans to have at least one group go through it this summer. We’ve had nothing but good feedback on the content. It has also spurred many to realize that while they have had a Biblical worldview in many areas of life, there are some areas they need to re-evaluate. Several have told me that they are better able to articulate their beliefs and defend their faith. All in all, using The Truth Project has been a great tool for discipleship and introducing people to apologetics.
Church Website: WestHuntsville.com
Ratio Christi: RatioChristi.org/UAH
Personal Ministry: WhyApologetics.com